Edited by Anne S.Y. Cheung and Rolf H. Weber
Maurice Adams and Corien Prins
The transformative impact of digitalization on society and the state of democracy can scarcely be overestimated. Effects are visible within the national state and across borders, as well as on knowledge production and political participation and social structures. In this introductory chapter, the variety of norms and ideals which are reflected in just as many different conceptions of democracy are singled out with regard to the respective chapters in this volume. Based on this, also some further thoughts on the topic are elaborated upon and a networked approach is advocated.
There is a lot of academic writing on global constitutionalism and global citizenship as a new concept for understanding and establishing a legal relationship among people and states worldwide, built upon ideas of Immanuel Kant and drawing from the experience of international law. There is, on the other hand, a broad conversation on the impact of the internet on social relations and political processes at all levels, including the development of internet governance and attempts to reconsider public ordering, legislation and democracy in the digital age. The present chapter strives to combine the two discourses with a view to exploring the potential offered by new information technologies for the constitution of global democracy. Far from a global state, this process is understood – in terms of ‘multilevel constitutionalism’ – as establishing an institutional framework at the global level that is additional and complementary to states and supra- and international organizations. It is rooted in the will and interest of the citizens of the states and organizations around the globe to deploy democratically legitimate mechanisms to cope effectively with global challenges and achieve goals that so far have been beyond the reach of national and international politics. Drawing from the experience of internet governance and using elements of Majid Behruouzi’s ‘theory of direct-deliberative e-democracy’, seven aspects of a possible internet-based global constitutional framework are presented for further consideration as a step towards a constitution for self-rule by the global citizen.
Nicolo Zingales and Roxana Radu
In this chapter, we briefly define the notion of ‘multistakeholder governance’ and describe its evolution and criticism through the prism of global Internet policy-making. First, we provide a definition and background, illustrating the different forms this concept has taken in three fora for participation in global Internet policy-making (United Nations, International Telecommunication Union and World Trade Organization). Second, we highlight the tension between the currently multiform notion of multistakeholder governance and core democratic values, and provide practical suggestions as to how these values can be brought to bear within existing multistakeholder practices.
The aim of this chapter is twofold. On the one hand, the intent is to flesh out old and new challenges of today’s democracy and 14 ideal candidates for cases of general disagreement in the legal domain. On the other hand, in order to tackle such legal hard cases that concern either the meaning of the terms framing the legal question or the ways such terms are related to each other in legal reasoning, or the role of the principles that are involved in the case, three normative perspectives are employed. They concern the principles of justice, toleration and a mix of both. What ultimately is at stake has to do either with the risk of a toothless tolerance or the threat of an intolerant justice, and the ways in which we may avert the limits of this alternative.
It is the main postulate of this chapter that unlike conventional mass media focussed on content as a service, the commercial strategy in today’s social networking and media landscape renders communication an end in itself and thus significantly degenerates its politicizing effect. Accordingly, this brief text aims to address the burgeoning need for more critical and questioning approaches to the alleged democratic affordances of ICTs –seemingly through a more plural and participative communication environment. Considering the imminent moral, economic and environmental threats that humankind is facing, I raise the question whether our hyper-connected infosphere could help us build a collective awareness of the dangers ahead.
Digital technologies have the ability to stimulate political engagement and thus may foster representative deliberative democracy. However, digital technologies can just as easily become a challenge to democracy, either deliberately by obfuscation and manipulation or more intrinsically, as digital technologies as such are prone to bias. With a focus on transparency and privacy as underlying pillars of democracy, this chapter illustrates the challenges of digitalization for democracy. Such challenges do not pertain to one specific democratic stakeholder, but relate to the entire democratic ecosystem. Because of the complexity and variety of such ecosystems, further research should focus on better understanding the impact of digitalization on the pillars, values and interests underpinning democracy, taking into consideration the difficult interplay between the different stakeholders and technology as a separate – non-neutral – actor
While we tend to think of digital democracy as a positive development, embracing electronic voting may be a risky endeavour for democracies. Even assuming technology can reliably replace traditional paper voting, transitioning to e-voting may mean paying a heavy price in terms of transparency, popular participation in elections, and public trust in the democratic system. Additionally, the assumption that digital elections can be reliable may not accord with reality, given that saboteurs have immeasurable incentives to sway electoral results. Were we to permit remote digital voting, it would also be impossible to guarantee the free and secret nature of elections. Moreover, remote digital voting would completely transform the communal nature of elections as integral to a nation’s collective self-definition. Changing voting processes should thus be treated as a constitutional matter, with distinct variables in any given country. Countries should thus be careful when drawing conclusions from other countries’ experiences with digital voting. Especially in the context of e-voting, the application of constitutional standards may require different decisions for different countries. The factors affecting such decisions are enumerated.